St. Vartan Park, between East 35th and 36th Streets on Second Avenue, is named for the St. Vartan Cathedral of the Armenian Orthodox Church in America. Vartan was an Armenian who lived during the fourth century, remembered for his martyrdom at the Battle of Avarayr in 451AD between Armenian and Iranian forces in present-day Albania.
In June 1897, Mayor William L. Strong (1827–1900) appointed an advisory committee that became known as the Small Parks Commission. That commission selected this site for a park in 1901, and they acquired the land through condemnation two years later. This park opened as St. Gabriel’s Park in 1904, named for nearby St. Gabriel Church formerly at 310 East 37th Street. The park was reconstructed in 1936, and a playground, wading pool, roller skating track, and courts for handball, shuffleboard, and horseshoe pitching were added, as well as a field house and comfort station.
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